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Last updated on April 16, 2014 at 21:24 EDT

Gray Fox

The gray fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus) is a species of canine ranging from southern Canada, throughout most of the lower United States. It is also found in Central America, to Venezuela. This species and the closely related Island Fox are the only living members of the genus Urocyon, which is considered to be among the most primitive of the living canids.

Description

The gray fox has a pepper brown back, tawny sides, neck and legs, and a white belly. It has a black stripe along its back and tail. Another black stripe crosses its face from the nose to the eye and continuing to the side of the head. It stands about 12 to 16 inches at the shoulders and weighing up to 16 pounds. It has an overall body length of up to 47 inches. The gray fox is an agile canid able to scurry up and down trees with relative ease. The pelage is coarse when compared to other foxes. The face, upper part of the head, flanks, back and most of the tail gray. The throat and undersides are whitish, and the ventral surface of the tail tends toward a rusty brown. The individual hairs along the middle of the back and top of the tail are heavily tipped with black. This gives the appearance of a dark mane. The back and tail bear black-tipped bristles that stand erect during body posturing displays.

Habitat and Diet

Gray foxes are forest dwellers, and are the only other canids (besides raccoon dogs) able to climb trees. They prefer deciduous woodlands or partially open brush land with little human activity. While diet varies depending upon time of year, they prey mainly upon cottontail rabbits. Sometimes they eat small rodents, birds and insects are staples as well. These foxes also forage for fruits and berries, and tend to eat more vegetable material than does the red fox.

Compared to the red fox

The red fox is the most commonly known fox. The gray fox has a coat one inch shorter than the red and is limited to warmer climates than the red, which can be found in Polar Regions. Its tail however is more luxuriant. Both foxes tend to travel in a straight line when not hunting or being hunted. The gray is more reclusive and less tolerant of human presence. They mate in February, at the same time as the coyote and a few weeks after the red fox.

Gray Fox